Valarie Smith

 

Top 10 things I learned about Chip Miller

Portland Center Stage’s Miller on dream projects and adjusting to the pandemic: “We are making something new and we are making it very, very fast.”

Chip Miller first became known to Portland audiences when they directed last season’s smash productions Redwood and Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Portland Center Stage at the Armory. But Miller and PCS Artistic Director Marissa Wolf go way back.

“Marissa is like family to me,” Miller said. “If she said, ‘Hey, I got a job in Antarctica running a theater, do you want to come with me?’ I’d say, ‘Yeah, I’ll get some coats.’”

Miller was born in Hartford, Connecticut, but moved to Kansas City, Missouri when they were six. It was there that their love of theater blossomed, and it was at Kansas City Repertory Theatre where Miller met Wolf.

Chip Miller: a life in the theater. Photo: Kate Szrom, courtesy of Portland Center Stage at The Armory.

In their most recent roles at KC Rep, Miller was artistic associate and resident director, and Wolf was associate artistic director. When Wolf was named artistic director of PCS in 2018, replacing Chris Coleman when he left to take over the Theatre Company of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Wolf brought Miller along for the ride, hiring them as an associate producer at PCS before naming them associate artistic director in July.

While live productions are on hold at The Armory, Portland Center Stage offers a robust calendar of events with the PCS Remix program, which features virtual shows, staged readings and more, as well as other workshops and discussions available online.

To learn more about Miller and find out how they’re navigating the pandemic’s choppy waters, read on.

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Love Sugar Sex Magic

Portland Center Stage's online reading of Baruch Porras Hernandez’ 'Love in the Time of Piñatas' hits a cultural and theatrical sweet spot

Wow, did I enjoy this.

In the days leading up to the presidential election, I watched Portland Center Stage’s staged reading of Baruch Porras Hernandez’s Love in the Time of Piñatas online. My assignment: to evaluate how staged readings translate to a virtual format.

But almost as soon as Hernandez appeared on screen, emerging from a red velvet curtain in his bedroom while wearing a black mesh top, jacket festooned with streamers and glitter affixed to his beard, singing a song called “Down with the Trumps,” I forgot all that.

Baruch Porras Hernandez in Epic Party Theatre’s production of “Love in the Time of Piñatas” in December 2019. Photo: Robbie Sweeney/Courtesy Epic Party Theatre

“It’s my party and I’ll shake what I want to,” Hernandez began, go-go dancers accompanying him on either side of the screen, before the lyrics veered into something more somber. “Hello everybody, my name is Baruch,” he sang, “And if you’re like me, you’re terrified. I never thought it could get this bad. I never thought it could get so sad.”

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